Firstly Sir Alex Ferguson who kindly endorsed my first book after reading my manuscript before the book was published in late 2004. Sir Alex wrote to me personally twice about my manuscript. When I left the NHS after 35 years he sent me a signed photograph wishing me every success in my new career. I am a lifelong Manchester United fan and so you can imagine how brilliant it was to receive these things from Sir Alex – a real gentleman. And nothing like the image that is sometimes portrayed in the media – I speak as I find.
Secondly Tony Benn the retired Labour Party MP who spent over 50 years as a serving Member of Parliament and now 85 years young. Tony read my book and rang me at home to give me some feedback which was totally unexpected and frankly unbelievable to me. I have admired Tony as a conviction politician all my adult life and to actually have a long telephone conversation with him on a Sunday evening remains one of the greatest highlights of my life. The fascinating thing about that call was how Tony wanted to know about me rather than talk about himself. His humility is amazing. I’ve subsequently met Tony on two occasions and occasionally we exchange emails. Good men are few – Tony is a good man.
Thirdly Tom Peters. Tom has been my management Icon since I first read “In Search of Excellence” in the early 1980’s and from then it was an ambition to meet Tom. Imagine my absolute delight when I fulfilled that ambition by meeting Tom in 2006 when he was delivering an all day Masterclass to over 500 business leaders. Even in that pressurised day Tom kindly found time not only to meet me at lunchtime but also invited me to his after seminar reception when I got say hello again. Those meetings only touch the edge of the generosity of Tom – he invited me to a previous event in Birmingham that he was unable to attend. Tom gave me and my wife Annie complimentary tickets to that 2 day event in Birmingham event and indeed a complimentary ticket to the London event. Tom's image may be loud, brash and outspoken and yet as far as I’m concerned he is a quiet spoken, generous, humble and kind man who has gone out of his way to help me on my journey.
Fourthly Seth Godin. Seth was in England delivering a keynote address last year when an email from me hit his inbox about doing an interview for my Simplicity Blog. Seth replied immediately saying he would do it. I sent him 8 questions - he replied and the whole thing was wrapped up and published on the Blog in about an hour! It was like a real time conversation. Seth was absolutely brilliant in responding. Again it was his humility and lack of pretentiousness that impressed me more than anything – apart perhaps from his speed of response!!!
These men have impressed me in numerous ways but the one thing that comes across more than anything is their HUMILITY. ‘Role model’ is perhaps an overused term but from my own dealings with them the qualities of these four lead me to believe there is plenty of role model behaviour around them.
What personal ‘Icons’ have you met and did it meet your expectations?